The crux of the Message Box, and the critical question COMPASS seeks to help scientists answer, is “So what?”

Why should your audience care? What about your research or work is important for them to know? Why are you talking to them about it?


The answer to this question may change from audience to audience, and you’ll want to be able to adjust based on their interests and needs. We like to use the analogy of putting a message through a prism that clarifies the importance to different audiences. Each audience will be interested in different facets of your work, and you want your message to reflect their interests and accommodate their needs.

Questions to ask yourself as you define the So What:

  • What does my audience value?

  • How does this information impact them, or something they care about?

  • What is important for them to understand about what I'm sharing (scale, time frame)?

See Kathy Zeller's Initial and Refined So What? Section examples

Common So What? Section questions from our training and coaching sessions with researchers.

See how researchers from different fields use the Message Box to communicate with a variety of audiences

...With us! Contact us about trainings & provide feedback on the Message Box





The So What? Section

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